By: Junelle Lupiani, Registered Dietitian, Nutrition Supervisor
What is the ideal packed lunch for elementary school aged kids?
A nice alternative to the typical PB and J would be using 2 slices of intact grain bread, like toasted Ezekiel Food For Life, then add 2 tablespoons of almond or cashew butter along with some fresh raspberries or a half of a sliced banana. On the side serve some sliced organic red and yellow bell peppers and a piece of seasonal fruit.
What is the ideal packed lunch for middle school aged kids?
Whole grain pitas are a great way to incorporate left over dinner veggies. Place leftover grilled or roasted veggies (mushrooms, zucchini, yellow squash, peppers, onions) into pita, add some sprouts and a piece of all natural cheese or, if your child likes, some smoked salmon slices. On the side serve some sliced fruit like mango or make a fruit salad (chopped organic apples, grapes, melon, strawberries, and mint)
Can you talk a little bit about the importance of kids eating breakfast before school?
Breakfast is important for all of us, especially kids since they have growing bodies and growing brains. Breakfast affects our intellectual, behavioral and physical well-being. Furthermore, skipping breakfast has been linked to the development of obesity. Studies show that overweight and obese children skip breakfast more often than kids at ideal body weight, and recent data shows that 1 out of 3 kids in the US are considered overweight or obese.
Even though I strongly recommend we get out of bed early enough each day in order to sit down and enjoy breakfast, many moms want advice on quick/portable breakfast ideas. For this, I think smoothies are great. Here’s a nice smoothie that is likely to hold kids over until lunch hour – add to blender ½ cup organic vanilla yogurt, 4-5 pitted dates, a banana, a few scoops of nut butter and ½ cup milk (soy or almond milk work great too) and blend until smooth.
Or prepare diced honeydew, organic blueberries the night before and sprinkle with ground flax seed and shredded coconut and serve.
When you have some extra time on the weekends, prepare some quick bread (zucchini or banana are great, add things like ground flax and chopped nuts to the recipes and substitute white flour for spelt) these breads keep well and can be served on the go in the morning.
Often times, kids want to run and play during lunch and end up skipping it - how does this affect the child's day?
Skipping lunch can mean kids may go as long as 10 hours without eating. This, just like breakfast skipping, affects our intellectual, behavioral and physical well-being.